“Here’s the bottom line: Ashford acted entirely in good faith and did nothing wrong, and for more than a year she’s been given the run-around by BofA and now faces the loss of her home. The bank is to blame for this mess, yet it’s either unwilling or unable to take responsibility for its actions.”


“That’s not good enough.”


Simple BofA refi turns into foreclosure nightmare

Homeowner says Bank of America refinanced her mortgage, then stopped taking her payments. Next, it threatened to seize her condo.

Barely a week goes by without someone contacting me to say that a bank is trying to steal their home. Often, this “theft” is the result of unpaid mortgages that have resulted in foreclosure.

But every so often, I hear from someone who seems to have become genuinely entangled in a banking system that is both rigid in its dealings with customers and deaf to legitimate pleas for help.

That’s the case with Lana Ashford, who faces the loss of her Marina del Rey condo to Bank of America because of what turned into the refi from hell.

It’s a story worth telling, if for no other reason than because bankers, lawmakers and regulators need to be reminded from time to time that the housing mess involves real people and that many folks find themselves in trouble through no fault of their own.

It’s a story worth telling because, quite simply, it could happen to any of us.

BofA, which this week agreed to pay $137 million to settle charges that it helped rig bids on municipal bond contracts, says it was justified in how it treated Ashford. But a bank spokesman said BofA would take a closer look at the case.

Ashford, 63, works as sales director for a Hermosa Beach hotel. She’d been paying about $3,100 a month in mortgage payments for her two-bedroom condo, which she bought 25 years ago.

She wanted to lower her monthly payments and spoke with a BofA rep about her options. Because her loan was with Countrywide Financial, which BofA acquired in 2008, Ashford said, she was told this shouldn’t be much of a problem.

BofA said it could offer her a lower-interest, 30-year loan that would cut her monthly payments to about $1,600.

“This sounded like a great deal,” Ashford told me. “That’s why I wanted to go with it. Now I wish I never had.”

There were some early signs of trouble. The bank wanted to see additional paperwork before committing to the refi. Then it sent Ashford a contract that she signed but that BofA subsequently said contained errors. A new contract was sent.

BofA had also said the closing cost of the refi would be relatively low, but then Ashford discovered in the paperwork that she was being charged $6,000. The bank lowered it to $1,900.

The refi contract was scheduled to be signed Aug. 26, 2009. But a notary hired by BofA failed to show up.

Ashford signed the contract the next day, Aug. 27, and this time the notary was on hand to make it official. Ashford paid the $1,900 in fees and submitted her first mortgage payment of $1,607. BofA cashed both checks.

That missed day, though, would turn out to be crucial.

Not long after the documents were signed, Ashford said, she started receiving messages from the bank asking her to get in touch. She said she tried — repeatedly — but couldn’t get through to a human being.

Finally, last October, she managed to connect with a service rep, who informed Ashford that her loan wasn’t in the system.

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